Weatherize Baby Weatherize

In Maine there has been a great deal of discussion about the cost of residential heating and what to do about it. The majority of the focus seems to be on replacing oil with natural gas. This will help but it is not the first step to take. We all know heating fuel prices can vary greatly. Right now natural gas prices are low but that could change at any time. There are no guarantees on the savings based on the volatility of fuel prices. 

The first step in making home efficiency gains is to weatherize. The weatherization of homes immediately creates jobs, brings guaranteed savings to the home owners, and injects money back into the local communities. If a home becomes 30% more efficient it will dramatically reduce the annual operating costs for the owners. The improved efficiency will not change due to conflicts overseas, depleting supplies of fuel, or political shifts in ideology. 

In the last 18 months I did the audits and efficiency planning work for 250 homes in Maine. The average efficiency improvement was an estimated 30%. This works out to be a savings of $850 per household. This is a yearly savings based on today’s fuel prices. The total savings for the 250 homes was $212,000. This is $212,000 that became available to inject into the local businesses of Maine. What a bonus for our struggling economy. 

There is another tremendous economic benefit for the state due to the work that was done to upgrade the homes. Each of these 250 houses took, on average, 4 workers 2 days to complete the efficiency upgrades. That translates to 500 days of work for 4 contractors. Talk about job creation! 

The efficiency Maine rebate program helped get 2,500 homes weatherized. That is the equivalent of $2,120,000 dollars of savings for homeowners, and 5,000 days of work for 4 people. The $2,000,000+ dollars of savings can be spent in the local economy every year if the cost of heating stays where it is now. If it rises, the money available to the local economy gets even bigger. This is a huge amount of money that can be spent in local businesses. 

Weatherizing homes will save homeowners money even if they can’t change heating systems and fuel types. Also, a weatherized home opens up the possibility of using a heating system that is not directly tied to the delivery of fuel to the home. We should focus our efforts in doing what will pump money immediately into the economy, put people to work, and help us break our dependence on fossil fuel. 




Hear, hear.

So timely. Thanks for this DeWitt. Frankly, the Governor's infatuation with natural gas at the moment is doing incredible disservice to the people of Maine. I thought he was a fiscal conservative, but he's either gone big spender or can't be bothered by math. The switching cost alone of shifting oil boilers to natural gas for the "majority" of Maine homes (his 3 year goal) is north of $2 billion. And that doesn't include, uh, getting the natural gas to people's houses. Maybe someone should point out to him that our state isn't exactly densely settled. Efficiency savings, as you point out, require no pipelines, cost a helluva lot less than a new boiler and, LISTEN UP PEOPLE, produce savings forever with no monthly charges.

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